The Whippet, the master of acceleration

Nicknamed as the «greyhound of the poor»And considered its younger brother, the whippet is a breed that stands out for itself. Centuries of history rest on his scapulae and his physical power makes him the fastest among dogs his size. But that is not all. Although it seems impossible, the whippet is able to beat the greyhound in short distances, thanks to its great acceleration capacity.

This little greyhound became one of the most popular dogs in Industrial Revolution England, welcomed by the working classes as a valuable possession. Whippet racing became more popular than greyhound racing, but the World Wars accelerated their decline and the little English greyhound has become one of the most popular companion dogs among today's British families.

ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE WHIPPET

Go back to the origins of the whippet forces us to travel the paths of two races that always accompany their story, how are he italian greyhound and the greyhound. Two paths that suppose two theories foundThe first points to the whippet as an ancient breed, while the second states that the whippet is a relatively modern breed that has its roots in the English Industrial Revolution.

Greyhound, whippet and italian greyhound drawing

The first theory defends the existence of representations of dogs very similar to the whippet for hundreds and thousands of years. Small and short-haired greyhounds adorning Egyptian tombs of more than 6,000 years old, decorative arts such as vases and pots of ancient Greece and Turkey, as well as in the italian renaissance paintings. In this sense, it is difficult to discern whether these representations correspond to the italian greyhound or to the whippet, since the modern concept of dog breeds did not emerge until the middle of the 18th century and previously dogs were known for their purpose.

The second theory points to the whippet as a descendant of the greyhound, having been crossed with other smaller breeds to give it character. The emergence and development of the Industrial Revolution in England in the 18th century supposed a deep socio-economic transformation of society. Rural people were forced to move to new urban centers to survive. Housing was reduced and the living conditions of the urban inhabitants were precarious. The Greyhounds were costly to these families, Who they opted for smaller specimens, who entertained them and with those who illegally hunted rabbits and hares for food.

The whippet would emerge in this context, as the result of breeding by working class Englishmen to obtain a new breed to entertain themselves with. This new greyhound would be the result of crossing smaller greyhounds with terrier breeds, to give it more character and speed that would allow it to hunt the maximum number of rats and / or rabbits in the shortest possible time in a limited space destined for this purpose. This was one of several and cruel new forms of urban entertainment with animals, which at the time motivated the appearance of the first Animal Protection Associations.

The hunting instinct of the whippet reshaped greyhound racing, which evolved from the so-called «rag racing«, Where rags or rabbit skins were waved to attract the dog to the goal. The whippet became «the greyhound of the poor«, Thanks to its lower maintenance cost and by allowing greyhound racing in smaller spaces.

The recognition of the whippet as a breed came in the 19th century, with the appearance of the first dog clubs and exhibitions. During this century and until the arrival of the First World War, whippet racing became the most popular entertainment and began to be celebrated throughout the country. Its rise attracted the attention of the more affluent classes, who participated in its breeding to resemble the greyhound, giving rise to a more refined whippet and setting the current breed standard in the 20th century.

WWI and WWII affected the development of the breed, their population declining as living conditions hardened and all canine activities, such as whippet races, were paralyzed, which were losing popularity. After the end of the war, the little English greyhound re-emerged as a companion and show dog, becoming one of the most popular dog breeds in present-day England. Some whippet races are still being held in England, continental Europe, the United States and Australia, but they are in full decline and are only sponsored by a few clubs with small members.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE WHIPPET

The official whippet standard was established by the International Cynological Federation in 2007. Classified in group 10 section 3 as short-haired sighthounds, their physical characteristics are:

whippet features

  1. Hope of lifetime: between 12 and 15 years.
  2. Size: median.
  3. Height: between 44 and 51 cm.
  4. Weight: between 10 and 15 kg.
  5. Complexion: slim.
  6. Extremities: straight and strong.
  7. Eyes: oval and shiny, dark brown, almost black, with a very lively expression.
  8. Ears: shaped like a rose, small and very fine. Their insertion is high and they are folded over on themselves.
  9. Snout: long with a black nose, although there are variations in its color: in dogs with blue coats, bluish in color; liver coats, liver color; in isabelas, creams or other diluted colors, any color but pink. Only the truffle with depigmented areas in white coats or with split colors is allowed.
  10. Jaws: strong, well outlined and with a perfect scissor bite.
  11. Neck: long, muscular and elegantly arched.
  12. Line: short hair, long and sharp. In movement it raises it forming a delicate curve.
  13. Hair: thin, short and tight.
  14. Coat colors: any color or combination is allowed.

Whippets are a small version of the greyhound, so they share many of its physical characteristics, although in a smaller size. Despite the fact that in the race he does not reach the high speeds of his older brother, they are the fastest among dogs of their size, reaching 56 km per hour. Even if, they are able to beat the greyhound in short distances thanks to their great acceleration capacity, the best breed of dog in this regard.

WHIPPET CHARACTER

Whippets are affectionate and playful dogs. He is the least independent of the greyhound family and his enjoyment of human company makes him an excellent family dog. Still, it retains distinctive features of sighthounds, such as some shyness in front of strangers, so you have to take care of their socialization with other humans during their first months of life.

Like their sister races, they are very sensitive. Not only can education with punishment cause serious behavioral problems and lead to learned helplessness, it can also deteriorate their gastrointestinal health. For all this and to enjoy your great intelligence, it is better opt for polite education in which the welfare of the human - canine relationship is prioritized.

Although its genetic history may make us think that it is a high energy dog, as an adult they are very calm. Whippets love to snuggle up on the couch next to their favorite human and prefer quiet and respectful games to high intensity, physical contact. Therefore, they just need a little daily exerciseHis ideal exercise routine is a half-hour walk with a few minutes of running at his own pace and in freedom.

As they have a great capacity for acceleration and retain a strong instinct to hunting small prey on the move, you have to pay special attention when you decide to release it. If you are not sure that he will come to your call when he is presented with a stimulus, it is preferable to do it in confined spaces.

WHIPPET DISEASES

The whippet can be affected by a series of pathologies more frequent in their racial group:

  1. Heart diseases.
  2. Progressive retinal atrophy.
  3. Congenital cataract.
  4. Muscle hypertrophy.
  5. Deafness.
  6. Chemical sensitivity to certain compounds and medical treatments, such as anesthesia.
  7. Cushing's syndrome.
  8. Megaesophagus.
  9. Hypothyroidism
  10. Histiocytoma.

WHIPPET CARE

The whippet is a dog that does not need great care. Her short hair is very easy to maintain with a basic hygiene and in the shedding periods, you just have to brush more frequently.

Due to its fur, thin skin and low percentage of body fat, it is not a breed that is friendly to cold or rainy climates, so it is highly recommended that they be provided with the necessary shelter, both at home and during walks: blankets, stoves, coats, fleeces and raincoats. We must also prevent it from resting on the ground or on hard surfaces because it can develop calluses and sores in the joints.

Your nails grow very fast, Therefore, special attention must be paid to their care to avoid fissures, breaks or plantar deformations. Special attention must also be paid to your dental hygiene to avoid plaques of tartar.

Due to their thin limbs and ability to reach high speeds while running, whippets are prone to fractures. To avoid any orthopedic problem, you must take care of its diet and its weight, which due to its adequate constitution is the one that makes it appear thin compared to other heavier breeds.

As with other dogs, it must visit the vet regularly for your vaccination, deworming and health checks. You should also maintain a stable routine of daily walks and feeding.

YOU AND YOUR WHIPPET

Are you one of the lucky ones who shares your couch with a whippet? Well, don't wait any longer to share your experience with us. Go ahead and leave us a comment telling us your story. We can't wait to meet her!

Whippet drawing

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